His Dark Materials Trilogy (The Golden Compass; The Subtle Knife; The Amber Spyglass) by Philip Pullman

His Dark Materials Trilogy (The Golden Compass; The Subtle Knife; The Amber Spyglass) by Philip Pullman

The first great iPod experiment comes to an end and… Success!

For the past couple of months I’ve been using my iPod to listen to an audio book – a reading of the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman. What a fantastic read, er…listen.

Technically, these are young people’s fiction, like Harry Potter – but that title feels so dismissive.

In many ways, this series is better than Potter. While Rowling has created some infinitely interesting characters and a wonderfully imaginative world, it doesn’t go as deep as it could. There’s not as much to it in terms of philosophical thought, for example. And while it’s a fun world to enjoy while you’re in it, ultimately it’s candy and some wonderful, if empty calories.

On the other hand, Pullman’s trilogy – made up of the Golden Compass, the Subtle Knife, and the Amber Spyglass – are huge. It takes place across several worlds, each one, like Rowling’s, as interesting and as well thought-out as the last. He has created some wonderful, memorable characters that you grow to know intimately, also like Rowling. But unlike her, Pullman has injected this work with a depth of meaning that’s truly impressive.

The story is about a girl in another world – a world where people have daemons (no, not demons), which is basically the manifestation of their soul in animal form. But that’s just where it starts. As you read along, the story just gets bigger and bigger. What Pullman is talking about – how the worlds fit together and how we all should behave in our own lives – feels important. And more than just in a morality-tale kind of way. It’s something you can take with you and think about. It deals with themes of consciousness, religion and science, honesty, and family and creativity, And if it resonates with you, as it has with me, it might just inspire you to make your life a little better.

Anyway, that sounds a bit contrite, but I REALLY recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the Harry Potter series. I think those of us who enjoy Potter enjoy it despite the fact that it’s young people’s literature. With Pullman, you’ll see why children can enjoy it, but as an adult you’ll get way more out of it than they ever will.

Next up… I’ve started listening to Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Maybe I’ll actually be able to finish this monstrous, dry, massive novel on magic in 19th century England. I have so far failed to get more than halfway through in reading on the page. Let’s hope the audio book offers better hope of completing it.


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